Can fathers take maternity leave in Texas?

Some fathers can take paternity leave. If you are a soon-to-be father expecting a baby in Texas, you may be concerned about the future and whether or not your employer is required to give you paternity leave. Those who work for small employers in Texas may not be able to get paternity leave.

However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of covered employers to take a non-compensated leave for particular family and medical reasons, such as the birth of a child or to care for a newborn during his first year. It also allows this paternity leave if a child for foster care or adoption is being placed with the employee within one year of placement. This leave is job-protected. The employer is required to continue providing group health insurance under the same terms and conditions as if the employee hadn’t taken leave.

Your employer needs to give you 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave after your partner has a baby or you adopt a child if:  (1) it has 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or prior calendar year, and (2) you’re eligible because you’ve worked for the company for at least 12 months, have a minimum of 1,250 hours of service during the 12-month period just before the paternity leave, and work at a site where the company has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

However, it’s important to note that if you and the mother both work at the same company, the FMLA only requires companies to provide a combined 12 weeks of parental leave. That means, for example, if your partner works for the same employer and has already taken 12 weeks of maternity leave to give birth and bond with the newborn, you cannot then take paternity leave.

Also, there are situations in which an employer may be able to show that putting you back into the prior position would cause grievous and substantial economic injuries. In that case, the employer is allowed to refuse to reinstate salaried, highly paid, and important employees. The employer is supposed to let you know in writing that you are considered a key employee under the FMLA’s definition and also let you know in writing why your job’s not being restored. The employer should give you a reasonable opportunity to come back to work after the notification.

Paternity leave can be important. Men should be involved in child rearing and bond with their children. Gender roles in society are changing. Other countries recognize the importance of paternity leave. Japan, for example, provides paternity leave to its national civil servants and has had a campaign to increase the number of eligible male workers who take this leave. 8.2% of those eligible who worked for government agencies took child care leave in fiscal 2016, and this was an increase from the prior year. Although Texas, like other states, prohibits pregnancy discrimination, it doesn’t have a law entitling you to paternity leave.

It can be important to obtain representation from an experienced employment lawyer when you have a dispute with your employer regarding discrimination or other matters concerning workers’ rights. Contact us at (214) 528-6500 or via our online intake form.

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